Celebrating South Milwaukee’s Top Garden Spots: And The Mayor’s Choice Winner Is …

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Update: I have posted photos from all eight gardens on my Facebook page.

The South Milwaukee Historical Society’s seventh-annual Garden Tour was in full bloom on Saturday.

What a terrific showcase for South Milwaukee!

My family visited all eight gardens on the tour, and we came away so impressed with the painstaking work put into keeping these homes beautiful. These are just amazing outdoor spaces.

I can’t thank the volunteers from the Garden Club and Historical Society enough for all the hours they put into this event. It paid off with a wonderful celebration of what makes South Milwaukee so special — our unique neighborhoods, homes, people and, of course, gardens.

So, who was the best of the best?

For the first time, I was asked to give out a Mayor’s Choice Award, and instead of one, we are giving out four. Here is the list …

  • Mayor’s Choice Award Grand Prize: The home of Jerry and Kay Grant, 1414 Fairview Avenue. Their backyard is home to a working model railroad, complete with a station, and some beautiful plantings. A few photos are in this post. They receive a wonderful piece of window art from Garden Tour vendor and local resident Deb Sindric (Flowers and More by Deb), $50 in local restaurant gift certificates, a Historical Society membership and a proclamation from the city.
  • Mayor’s Choice Award Honorable Mentions: The homes of Becky Gresser (906 Fairview Avenue), Judy Lewandowski (800 Lake Drive) and Tom and Peggy Bartelt (111 16th Avenue). All three of these were special in their own right, with immaculate and meticulous gardens, seating and entertainment areas. Each honorable mention winner receives a Historical Society membership, a copy of the society’s “Letters to Mettie” book and recognition in the proclamation.

Congratulations to everyone who took part in this, and I wish I could have given all eight participants an award. These spaces were that outstanding. But, in the end, the real winners here are the people who had a chance to experience these terrific South Milwaukee homes on Saturday, including a number of folks from outside our fair city.

I can’t think of a better postcard for South Milwaukee.

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Filed under Events, History, South Milwaukee

Grant Park Updates: Oak Leaf Trail, Last Call For Beer Garden

Beer garden

A couple quick updates on the ongoing work in Grant Park …

  • First, I’m told repaving and widening work on the Oak Leaf Trail through the park is expected to start around July 13. It will begin near the golf course clubhouse and work north, with a completion date around August 20. The park drive may be closed for a short period during tree removal. This is a significant project that is long overdue — and just one of a number of upgrades planned along the Oak Leaf Trail and other trails throughout the region. Learn more here and here.
  • The traveling beer garden at Picnic Area 5 ends Sunday night. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with last call at 9. It’s been a big success, by all accounts, and sales are very strong. Now let’s work on bringing it back in 2016!

More to come in the park this summer, as Ferch’s Beachside continues to work toward its opening … stay tuned.

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Emergency Repair: County Board Backs Bridge Funding

Beech Street bridge

Good news for South Milwaukee from the Milwaukee County Board today, as supervisors overwhelmingly passed a measure to spend $200,000 in emergency funding for reconstruction of the Beech Street foot bridge over Oak Creek.

Here is the press release from County Supervisor Patricia Jursik, who drove this effort.

I thank Pat for her hard work on this, and for all who voted for this important piece of legislation for South Milwaukee. This foot bridge is a vital connection between our middle and high schools and the northwest side of town.

From all the upgrades under way at Grant Park to investments in Grobschmidt Pool to the continued partnership around an Oak Creek watershed restoration study, the county continues to make an investment in South Milwaukee.

I am very appreciative to see this project added to the list, and was happy to get behind this effort.

I will keep you posted on timelines for replacement. The hope: We have a new bridge in place in time for the start of the new school year.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Join Us For Another July 4th To Remember


Our July 4th celebration at Grant Park will be bigger than ever in 2015.

As always, the festivities start at 10 a.m. at Picnic Areas 5, 5a and 6 with bike judging, followed by games and the penny scramble. Ice cream and cracker jack will be available free for all participants.

All attendees are then invited to the second annual free Mayor’s Picnic, where Steve and his team from Emerald City Catering will serve hot dogs, chips, soda and water, thanks to a generous donation by TASC Services, a local commercial cleaning company. And that’s not all: We’re also offering bouncy houses, temporary tattoos for the kids, and more … all ending with fireworks that night.

Max A. Sass & Sons Funeral and Cremation Services is sponsoring the inflatables again this year, and Educators Credit Union is sponsoring the local DJ, from noon to 7 p.m.

My goal is to find new ways to get more families to our July 4th events and keep those families at Grant Park longer. Last year, we delivered on that, and we’ll do it again in 2015. I hope you can make it.

Thanks to all of our sponsors for stepping up!

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Looking Back, To Move Ahead: Take Your Own Downtown History Tour


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I can’t thank Nels Monson and the South Milwaukee Historical Society enough for their efforts with the downtown history walking tour on Saturday.

Nels’ knowledge of local history and storytelling abilities are amazing, and hearing him speak about our “proud past” inspires me.

My ask: Take the tour for yourself. Here is a brochure for a self-guided version of this trip into South Milwaukee’s past.

I think you’ll agree that, more than ever, this much is clear: We need to embrace that past as we look to the future of downtown, a future that we’ll be writing in coming months as part of our downtown planning efforts. There is so much inspiration we can draw from our history, as we look to drive investment, energy and new life in our city center.

Of course, we can’t dwell on the past. And we don’t. But as we plan for the future, I’m excited to learn all I can about where we’ve come from as we work together to determine where we’re headed.

Let’s get moving on this journey!

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Baseball + Outdoor Movie = Summer Fun

SMLL movie night

See you there!

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Filed under Events, South Milwaukee Little League

South Milwaukee Police Release Annual Report

It was a busy year for the South Milwaukee Police Department … and their 2014 annual report sums it up well.

Check it out here.

Success piled up, from the department’s successful certification efforts to the addition of body cameras for all officers to all of its efforts in the community, including Shop with a Cop, Justice for a Cure and Community Night Out, among others.

And while crime was up from 2014 in some key areas, longer term trends are still very good … and I am as convinced as ever that our police department is doing all it can to operate effectively with one of the smallest forces per capita in the region.

I thank them for their hard work.

As Chief Ann Wellens put it in the report …

The officers and the staff of the South Milwaukee Police Department take great pride in serving our community. It is their goal to provide the best service possible to the citizens of South Milwaukee. The data found in this Annual Report represents only a snapshot of the total activities of the members of the South Milwaukee Police Department over the past year. … The members of the South Milwaukee Police Department, working cooperatively with our citizens and elected officials, have met many difficult challenges during the past year. The future holds many new and different challenges. Members of the Police Department are dedicated to meeting those challenges with the support of the community and our elected officials. We will continue to work towards the safety and wellbeing of all citizens of South Milwaukee.


Filed under Police, South Milwaukee